Just a 5 minute drive from Wanganui’s city centre brings you to St John's Hill and beautiful Virginia Lake, where you can take a lovely 25 minute woodland walk around the lake. At night the trees are softly illuminated and the fountain erupts in a spectacular colourful display.
The Winter Gardens are also located at Virginia Lake. The Art Deco facade conceals a conservatory and three outdoor display areas in the walled garden. Admission is free.
This central city hilltop park was once a fortified Maori Pa and then the site of the Rutland Stockade. Now it is the site of several historic and architecturally significant buildings including the Sarjeant Gallery, The Whanganui Regional Museum and the War Memorial Hall. The impressive Veterans Steps leading up to the Sarjeant Gallery are a reminder of the New Zealand wars.
Bason Botanic Gardens
11 kilometres from town you will find this beautiful park, named a "Garden of Significance". Enjoy the extensive plantings of native and exotic trees. Three conservatories feature an outstanding rare orchid collection, begonias and bromeliads. For something different try the new 20 minute orienteering route or how about a game of Frisbee Golf? There is no entry charge.
Bushy Park Forest Reserve
A short drive into the country brings you to 90 hectares of pristine native forest, named Bushy Park. Bushy Park includes ‘Ratanui’ – believed to be the largest Rata tree in the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy a traditional ‘Devonshire Tea’ on the mansion’s terrace as you marvel at the landscaped gardens and watch for endangered birds soaring overhead.
A 20km drive out of Wanganui takes you to Paloma Gardens, named "Garden of National Significance". Here you will find plants and trees from all over the world scattered with fantastic sculptures. The gardens are presented in several different zones including Palm Garden, Desert House, Garden of Death, Bamboo Forest, Jardin Exotique, Wedding Lawn and 2 Arboretums.
Gordon Park Scenic Reserve
Across the river between Kaimatira Road and No 3 Line you will find the car park to Gordon Park Reserve, a lowland forest reserve, with easy access tracks suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. Here you will see many native birds as you walk through kowhai, kawa, totara and matai amongst other species. This is a family friendly short 20 minute walk suitable for all abilities.